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Childhood obesity has become an epidemic throughout the country, and parents must be proactive about the health of their children.
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Allowing your child to grow up overweight will increase
their risk of countless medical complications including type 2 diabetes, heart
disease, high blood pressure, asthma, and gallstones. It will also have a major
impact on their cognitive development due to nutritional deficiencies. While
this process is not always easy, investing a little extra time and energy into
your child's health will change their life forever. Here is a look at four
steps you can take to ensure that your child stays within a healthy weight
range as they continue to grow older.
We are more connected to our devices than ever, and some
children spend hours a day in front of televisions, tablets, computers, and
smartphones. While an hour or two of video games and TV shows is generally not
a problem, parents must set strict limits on how long their children can use
these devices. The American Academy of Pediatrics
claims that children between the ages of 18 and 24 months should not spend any
time in front of screens unless they are video chatting with a loved one. When
it comes time to watch a show or play a game, you should encourage programming
that challenges their cognitive abilities or gets them to move around.
Even if your children are eating healthy meals, they might
still have a problem losing weight if they consume sodas and sports drinks.
They might also have a difficult time staying within a healthy weight range if
they drink too much juice. The vast majority of liquid that your child drinks
throughout the day should be plain water. Parents who are having a tough time
getting their children to drink water might want to make it more exciting by
adding natural flavors such as lemon, lime, mint, ginger, or cucumbers. The
amount of water that your child should drink every day depends on their age,
weight, and sex, but most younger kids need at least five or six full cups.
Many parents are surprised to hear that children need
upwards of three hours of exercise every single day. Unfortunately, it can be
difficult to find ways to get them to move around when you are tired yourself.
That is one of the reasons why so many parents enroll their children in
extracurricular activities at night, on the weekends, and during the summer. Swimming classes for toddlers, intramural
sports, and outdoor games are all excellent options that will help them burn
calories and strengthen their muscles. Exercising will also help with other
aspects of their life such as their studies and how well they sleep.
The final step in this process is to lead by example.
Children always pick up habits from their parents, and that includes how much
you value your health. If your child sees you sitting in front of the
television for hours every night, then they will assume that is a perfectly
normal part of the day. By getting some exercise and eating healthy, you are
going to help your children create habits that they will stick to for many
years to come. You can also use physical activities as a way to strengthen your
family bond. Instead of staying in at night and on the weekends, your family
should head to the park to spend a few hours out in the sun playing games.
Children who remain sedentary and eat whatever they want could potentially have
to deal with a lifetime of health problems. Before trying any of these tips and
tricks, parents should first speak with a doctor to make sure that their child
is overweight and in need of lifestyle changes.
Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys reading reading books out on the lake while kayaking.
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